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Hardware Independent Imaging (HII)

This term describes an approach to deploying an Operating System where the drivers and software are separate from the base image. Also known as a layed imaging, there are multiple steps to deploying a complete computer system that are specific to the hardware being deployed to.

Prior to this approach, and still used by some Enterprises, a common method to deploy an system was to create a hardware dependent image. Meaning, there was an image for each and every type of computer hardware/configuration that a company supported. An IT technicial would install the Operating System, Drivers, and Software on a system and then using a hard drive copying tool such as Ghost, create a copy of the entire hard drive. This copy could then be used to deploy the finished product/image to other computers of the exact same hardware. This approach is no longer recommended as it leads to high IT overhead to manage each and every "image." For example, when a new computer model needs to be supported, the entire image creation process must be done from start to finish. Likewise, if any piece of software needed an update or the Operating System needed to be patched then every instance of the Hardware Dependent images needed to be updated.

The preferred method of image deployment is to use Hardware Indenpendent imaging where the Operating System, Drivers, and Software are all independent from one another. The imaing process instead of being a hard drive copy is instead a managed process to ensure the right drivers and software is layered onto the target system as needed.